Where: Belfast city centre
What is it?
Festival of Fools has built an international reputation for presenting some of the finest and funniest street shows touring the world. From Friday 28th April to Monday 1st May, Belfast City Centre will come alive with acrobatics, circus acts, clowning and astounding tomfoolery, all for free!
The festival is perfect for families who fail to plan ahead and for tourists who can simply stroll around sampling the delights of comedic talents from around the world delivered in the universal language of laughter. As some of the world’s most experienced street theatre from Spain, Italy, France, Canada, Holland, Argentina, USA, England, Ireland and Northern Ireland take over Belfast.
Highlights include Luis Brusca, who has devoted his life to exploring the chaos and anarchy in the world around us. His research has led to the creation of a poetic and prize-winning clown show, looking at lost love and found friends on a sensational journey through life.
For thirty years The Flying Dutchmen have been travelling the world on their unicycles, hurling flaming torches and punchlines at each other in pursuit of the ultimate trick. And Mat Ricardo, the Gentleman Juggler, is renowned for his engaging, stylish and relaxed approach to even the most fiendishly difficult of tricks. Mat has a place in history as the first person to put the tablecloth back on the table.
Will Chamberlain, Artistic Director of the Festival of Fools, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to introduce another wonderful weekend of talent from around the world onto the streets of Belfast City Centre and the Cathedral Quarter. In a year which has seen so much bad news, we find there is much to celebrate as we bring Belfast’s public spaces to life with comedy, circus and a little bit of glamour. Being able to offer 120 free performances over the course of the Festival together with all of the food and drink deals means that we are Northern Ireland’s most affordable festival bringing together people from all backgrounds, ages and territories to unite in a celebration of laughter and talent from around the corner and around the world.”
The festival begins on Friday 28th April at 7pm in Writers’ Square with a performance from Catalonian acrobatic company, Vol’e Temps. Paper Worlds is a tender, daring and disturbingly funny show bringing together dance and circus techniques whilst delivering stunning acrobatics, with dazzling dexterity and some serious theatrical illusion.
Over the following three days, audiences will be spoilt for choice with five shows taking place at any one time through until 6pm each day, when the action moves into St Anne’s Square with the Big Finish cabaret show. The growing walkabout programme means that you can expect bizarre sightings of belligerent ballroom dancers; marauding Morris Dancers and the shambolic St Joan’s Ambulance, who have caused more accidents than they have cured. You can spot these artists as you make your way between all the shows in Bank Square, Cornmarket, Cotton Court, Saint Anne’s Square and Writers’ Square.
Northern Ireland has some of the strongest youth and community circus companies in Europe. This strength has led to a unique strand of programming, presenting ten different groups from across Northern Ireland along with the one visiting company from Belgium.
In addition to a host of international companies the festival is presenting some of the best home-grown talent with the Raven Sisters, combining dance, with elegant hat manipulation. And Sideboard Sideshow, two idiots displaying acrobatics, live music and juggling.